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College Niqab Ban Angers UK Muslims

Published: 11/09/2013 04:18:11 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Sending shockwaves among Muslim students and staff, a leading British university has banned Islamic face-veil, or niqab, inside its campus, citing security reasons. It upsets me that we are being discriminated agai (more)

CAIRO - Sending shockwaves among Muslim students and staff, a leading British university has banned Islamic face-veil, or niqab, inside its campus, citing security reasons.

"It upsets me that we are being discriminated against,” a 17-year-old Muslim student at Birmingham Metropolitan College, who did not want to be named, told The Telegraph.

"It's disgusting. It is a personal choice and I find it absolutely shocking that this has been brought in at a college in Birmingham city centre when the city is so multicultural and so many of the students are Muslim.

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"I don't think my niqab prevents me from studying or communicating with anyone - I've never had any problems in the city before."

Citing security reasons, Birmingham has issued a ban on face covering to be applied on all students, staff and visitors.

The college managing claimed that the ban, which applies from the beginning of this school year, aims at making Individual ‘easily identifiable at all times', and providing a ‘safer' and welcoming learning environment.

"We have a very robust equality, diversity and inclusion policy at Birmingham Metropolitan College but we are committed to ensuring that students are provided with a safe and welcoming learning environment whilst studying with us,” Dame Christine Braddock, the college's principal told the Birmingham Mail.

"To ensure that safeguarding is a priority, we have developed our policy alongside student views to ensure we keep them safe,”

"This needs individuals to be easily identifiable at all times when they are on college premises and this includes the removal of hoodies, hats, caps and veils so that faces are visible.”

While hijab is an obligatory code of dress for Muslim women, the majority of Muslim scholars agree that a woman is not obliged to wear the face veil.

Scholars believe it is up to women to decide whether to take on the veil or burqa, a loose outfit covering the whole body from head to toe and wore by some Muslim women.


The move has angered Muslim students; feeling discriminated against after women were told they could not wear the niqab.

"Me and another friend who wears the veil were only told we wouldn't be allowed inside the college after we had enrolled,” Imaani Ali, 17, who studies applied sciences told The Telegraph, adding that her "freedom has been breached" by the rule.

“They haven't provided us with another alternative. We said we would happily show the men at security our faces so they could check them against our IDs, but they won't let us.

“I don't really want to go to a place that doesn't accept me but I have no choice now,” she added.

A wave of British Muslims' anger has reached the social media, calling for mass protests next Friday, September 13, to denounce the ban.

“Muslim women already face many challenges in society leading to marginalization and discrimination,” Muslim activists said in a Facebook statement, The Independent reported.

“We are under-represented in education and subsequently in public life and in the workforce.”

Khalid Mahmood, MP for Birmingham, Perry Barr, shared students' opinion.

"I see no reason why young women should not be able to practice their faith and wear what is appropriate for their religion," he told The Huffington Post UK.

"It is about freedom to protect your rights.

"I am seriously concerned that the college has taken this approach."

Niqab is already at the center of a heated debate raging across Britain, which is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.7 million.

The disclosure comes as proposals to ban face coverings in public places are being debated in parliament.

A private members bill proposed by Philip Hollobone, the Conservative MP for Kettering, would make it an offence for someone to wear “a garment or other object” intended primarily to obscure their face, in public.

Jack Straw, the Labour former foreign secretary, has first sparked the niqab controversy in 2006 after asking Muslim constituents to show their faces if they wanted to meet him.

Reproduced with permission from